Thursday, August 12, 2010


Archbishop Raymond Burke

Official Summorum Pontificum study
Update - posted by Gregor Kollmorgen, of the New Liturgical Movement

For a while now, a German Canonical Commentary on Summorum Pontificum by the German latinist and canon lawyer Fr. Gero P. Weishaupt has been available online. This commentary has now been published as a book, and the preface to this book was written by H.E. Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. The full text of the preface is available at the German website Summorum Pontificum. Here is an NLM translation of a passage of the preface which doubtlessly will raise great interest:

In the second chapter of his commentary, Weishaupt answers a number of practical issues that arise regarding the implementation of Summorum Pontificum and result from recent changes to the discipline of the celebration of the sacraments, such as e.g. those regarding female altar servers or lay people who perform the ministry of lectors or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. To answer these questions , the commentary correctly applies two general canonical principles.

The first principle requires that liturgical norms, which were in force in 1962, are to be diligently observed for the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, for these norms protect the integrity of the Roman rite as contained in the Missal of Blessed John XXIII. The second principle states that the subsequent liturgical discipline is only to be introduced in the Extraordinary Form, if this discipline affects a right of the faithful, which follows directly from the sacrament of baptism and serves the eternal salvation of their souls.

The application of these two principles to the cases mentioned leads to the conclusion that neither the service at the altar by persons of the female sex nor the exercise of the lay ministries of lector or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion belong to the basic rights of the baptized. Therefore, these recent developments, out of respect for the integrity of the liturgical discipline as contained in the Missale Romanum of 1962, are not to be introduced into the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite. The commentary presents here in an impressive manner that the mutual enrichment of both forms of the Roman rite is only possible if discipline peculiar to each of the two forms is accordingly carefully observed.

My comments:

Archbishop Burke is the Church's leading "canonist" at the Vatican and gives his opinion on how the Extraordinary Form of the Mass should be celebrated which he concludes means following the rubrics and canons of this Mass as defined in Missal of Blessed John the Twenty-third in 1962. In his opinion, this would preclude the use of altar girls and female lectors or lay lectors in general.

However, it is Pope Benedict XVI who has stated in a letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum, that he hoped that allowing for the wider use of the 1962 missal that having two forms of the one Mass would exert influence on each. In terms of "organic development" has Pope Benedict set into motion the advent of a third typical missal a few decades down the road or sooner? What does Pope Benedict have in mind in terms of mutual enrichment and organic development? At one point the Holy Father indicated that he felt that the lectionary of the OF Mass could be used in place of the EF lectionary in the celebration of the EF Mass. He stated this three years ago, but since then there has been ambiguous support of such a thing.

At any rate, the writing of a preface for a book even by the highest authority on canon law in the Church is not the same thing as a promulgation from a Vatican Congregation or the pope himself. But what Archbishop Burke writes could in fact show forth a future "promulgation."

I would wholeheartedly support following the norms and laws of either form of the one Roman Rite as making perfect sense. The greatest problem with the celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Mass today is the super-creativity imposed upon it by priests and liturgy committees and making it up as you go in terms of extemporaneous comments and fashioning one's own prayers and rubrics. Often times there is more divergence of style in a Mass made up by a priest and/or his liturgy committee and the strict rubrics of the OF Mass. In fact in this case, the OF Mass when celebrated by the book is more in continuity with the EF Mass celebrated by the book than it is with a "creative" Mass celebrated in a non-rubrical way.

But what about the future? Could we see an Ordinary Form Mass option that maintains all of the soon to be revised English Roman Missal and its GIRM's current legislation and Bishop Conference's adaptations of the GIRM along with the modern Roman calendar and lectionary but with an English option for the EF's order of the liturgy for the fixed parts of the Mass and its rubrics?

What are your thoughts on this expanded option for the OF Mass's Roman Missal It would be very simple to do and there would not be the mixing of options. For example if the EF Order of the Mass is used with the OF Roman Missal, the priest would still use the collects, other orations and preface options along with the OF's lectionary but would have the Roman Canon's EF rubrics and the other Eucharistic prayers would have revised rubrics to keep them in continuity with the EF's Roman Canon rubrics, such as double genuflections at the consecration, specific rubrics for the pall and the genuflection that occurs when the chalice after the consecration is uncovered, etc.? Of course as with the OF's Roman Missal the entire Mass could be in English or the option of the Latin if so desired. But keep in mind, that the canons regulating the celebration of the OF Mass along with various bishops' Conferences adaptations would still be in force, thus allowing for lay lectors of either gender, altar girls and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion when needed. Again, comments?


Marc said...

Here's what I don't understand and perhaps you could write an entire blog entry on this. Why is it so important to have a bunch of lay people doing things during the Mass? (Note - I am a lector and I love being a lector, but it's not about me and what I like.)

I've read many of the Vatican II documents and this isn't clear to me. The Church has always taught that the laity share in the priesthood of Christ. However, we share in that priesthood in a different way than the ordained. Therefore, the laity have a role in the Mass which is limited and completely different than the priest. Our role is still important, just different.

Who generally read the Epistle before the Second Vatican Council? I don't have a Missal and I can't find the answer on the web.

kiwiinamerica said...

The ruling about altar girls raises more questions than it answers, particularly about the Novus Ordo. It marks yet another point of divergence between this rite and the Usus Antiquior.

Should females be present in the sanctuary during the celebration of the sacred mysteries or shouldn't they? Apparently only if the mysteries are celebrated in the vernacular with the celebrant facing the people.

Get it?

Neither do I.

Am I alone in thinking that altar girls just don't look right? When I look towards the sanctuary during Mass, I see men......the priest, the deacon, the acolyte(s)......dressed in the liturgical vestments. I also see altar boys dressed in their surplices and cassocks. There's a continuity and consistency there which points towards the priest who stands in persona Christi.

Put a woman or girl in those same vestments and it just doesn't work for me. It's incongruous and inconsistent. Reading the Epistle? OK.......I don't have a problem. It's clear that the reader is a member of the laity and has entered the sanctuary simply to read the Scriptures.

However, when women start to put on vestments hitherto reserved for men, I get very twitchy! That is where I draw the line.

Marc said...

Kiwiinamerica, your comment raises further questions for me... is there some time correlation between the allowance of "altar girls" and the major push from some people to ordain women? If so, is that a coincidence or are the two issues related somehow?

Aside from that, I guess the main thing to keep in mind for all these questions about what should be done during Mass, from my perspective, is this:

Who are we trying to please in the way we celebrate the Mass? Do we allow altar girls, women lectors (or any lay lectors), extraordinary "ministers" of Holy Communion, etc. because this is what pleases our God and this is how he wants us to celebrate the Mass? Or do we allow these things because they please us as a group or the individuals who undertake these roles?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Prior to Vatican II and now with the 1962 missal, the priest did everything. Even the role of the deacon was fulfilled by a priest wearing deacon vestments unless a transition deacon was handy. There were no permanent deacons. So today even in the 1962 rite, a permanent deacon may read the Epistle and Gospel, as well an instituted lector which is a formal step on the way to ordination may read the Epistle.
The use of of laity, male and female in the role of non-official lector (meaning they are not studying for the priesthood) was to show forth that the laity are called to "institutional roles" in the Church. Even in the 1962 rite, there is a place for a lay cantor, lay choir, ushers and altar boys many of whom would never go to the seminary later in life. The revision of the Mass after Vatican II simply allowed laity to also read and later discipline allowed girls to serve. Some might use the altar girls and women lectors use as a "straw man" to promote women's ordination. But it is a non-starter. The use of children, altar boys cannot be used as an argument that we should ordain children boys as priests.

Gene said...

Dear Fr, Please be careful about what you dismiss as a "non-starter." The same was said about homosexual marriage, pornography on television, perverted sex acts in the stree, government sponsored abortion, Communism in America, and a Muslim President. Nothing is exempt from the aggressive, anti-Christian/Catholic uses of the Left. Good people, please do not doubt for a moment that we are at war with a determined, ruthless, and clever enemy. Jews and Chritians, generally, and Catholics in particular refuse to see this and continue to play footsie with the all his guises.

Marc said...

Thank you for answering my questions, Father.

I understand those who don't like the idea of altar girls because the role of altar boy could be a potential stepping stone to the priesthood.

I agree with you, Father, that the use of altar girls to support the ordination of women is a "straw man" argument. However, I'm concerned about the impression altar girls create in the minds of the typical pew-sitting, poorly catechized Catholic, who may not understand the significance of the sacrifice of the Mass and of priestly ordination. When that Catholic sees altar girls around the altar during the Mass, I wonder if they begin to inquire why those girls can't later become priests. I hope I'm wrong and, in our parish, I think our parishioners are generally pretty well catechized... but, in some parishes...

Templar said...

Marc to answer your question on who read the Epistle before V2, I believe the correct answer is the Sub-Deacon read it (and the Deacon read the Gospel). Both of these roles were then steps in a Seminarian's progression towards Ordination. After V2 the "did away" with the Sub-deacon and replaced them with Lay Lectors (which, I don't mean to go down a rabbit hole on, but if you look it up it will show that the Lay Lectors are intended to be males. The use of females should be in extremity only).

As I address in the first Altar Girls posting a couple of days ago, I am in the camp described by Kiwiinamerica on this one, perhaps a step further in. I have been called to a Lay Vocation, and I am proud of it, and have embraced it fully and more so every day I pray. I find the constant blurring of the lines between clerical roles and lay roles to be more confusing than anything else. Perhaps if they hadn't removed the Altar Rails from most Churches that line might be a little clearer to us all.

Now, will the effects of SP eventually be to produce a new missal that takes the best of the OF and EF and melds them together? I honestly, and sincerely, DOUBT that, until such time as the OF is restored to the dignity the Council Fathers envisioned. The OF as it is practiced is in the majority of Parishes, a very far cry from what the Council intended. Even at St. Joseph, as much as I love Mass there and her Priests are scrupulous in their insurance to reverence, Mass is not celebrated as the V2 Council envisioned (i.e. ad orientem, communion in the hand). In order to seriously consider a melding of the EF and the OF, the OF first and foremost must be said in STRICT accordance with it's rubrics. It is to be hoped that the new translation of the missal will eliminate some of the opportunities for novelty that the current Missal allows.

So in conclusion, yes I think ultimately a new Missal will emerge, perhaps not in my life time and I am not too much younger than you Father. I think it shall contain more elements of the EF than the OF, and the greatest obstacle to it's happening any quicker is those whose attachment to the "easy" Mass that the OF has become will not willingly accept even the saying of the OF Mass as it was intended to be said. if those who love the EF are to be expected to accept "organic growth" of that Liturgy, they have a right that the Church first accept that we at least return the OF to the vision of the Council Fathers.

Anonymous said...

I vote for not changing anything. Keep the EF as it is. In the EF prior to 1962 and currently in the EF, here's the answer to the epistle question:

Low Mass: priest reads it at the altar on the epistle side of the altar.

Missa Cantata (high mass): priest does the same.

Solemn Mass: sung ( chanted) by subdeacon away from the altar but still facing east on the epistle side of the altar.

Lectors: I have seen this at a FSSP low mass: a seminarian at a low mass who is ordained a lector will enter the sanctuary ( if not already in choro) and read the epistle in a similar manner of the sub deacon at a solemn mass.

Also in all masses, the epistle and gospel are read in latin of course, however the custom worldwide is to again read the epistle and gospel in the vulgar tongue in the pulpit prior to the sermon.